Courtesy of Suffolk Jumpstart instagram
Suffolk University’s Jumpstart Program allows students to enhance their communication and relationship building skills, while preparing young children from low-income communities for success.
“We intentionally partner with communities where children’s families live at or below the poverty level,” said Suffolk Jumpstart site manager, Molly McCafferty. “Our mission and our goal at Jumpstart is to see the day that every child who enters kindergarten is prepared to succeed.”
McCafferty said that students working with Jumpstart receive valuable experiences such as navigating a team dynamic, learning how to work with kids, becoming familiar with lesson plans and a curriculum. Suffolk students can also utilize the Jumpstart program as a work-study, enabling them to earn money while simultaneously giving back to the community.
“People who are passionate about working with kids, people who are passionate about social justice and addressing those systematic barriers that exist within our society that prevent kids from being successful in the first place, that’s kind of who we’re looking for,” said McCafferty.
Nathaly Lemus, a sophomore political science student and chair of the Student Government Association diversity committee, got involved with Jumpstart during her freshman year.
“[Jumpstart’s] mission immediately intrigued me due to my own experience living in a low income household within an under-resourced neighborhood,” Lemus said. “I wish my community had a program like Jumpstart when I was younger and it’s heartwarming to see it being that resource, that support system, for children including dual language learners.”
Lemus said that while the pandemic provided challenges for the program, she felt the work was just as rewarding.
“Despite the adaptability and difficulty of the pandemic, it was just as heartwarming and groundbreaking to work with the children and watch them grow in their skills,” said Lemus.
Autumn Hall, a Suffolk senior, participated in Jumpstart from 2018-2019, and recalled the impact the program had on her.
“I knew that joining Jumpstart would not only fulfill my love for working with children, but it also would help me feel more connected to the community, and would be a great way to give back,” said Hall. “Over the course of the school year, the children really begin to open up and trust you more allowing you to create a really meaningful relationship.”
Lemus added that joining Jumpstart can offer students a new outlook on life.
“Working with the children in Jumpstart can remind you of how much of a child we can be no matter what age we are,” said Lemus.
Jumpstart takes place at three locations in the Boston area, including the Wang YMCA, East Boston YMCA and Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester. Students who participate in Jumpstart take part in teaching for two hours, twice a week, totaling four hours a week.
Students can apply online for a position at Jumpstart.
Shealagh Sullivan contributed to this article.